Minister moves to renew Intels’ expired contract after ‘flouted criteria’


Abiodun OBA

Transportation Minister, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, is reportedly pushing hard to void the procurement process and re-award the contract to Intels despite its disqualification.

According to TheCable report, controversy surrounds last-minute attempts to terminate the boat monitoring contract procurement process in Nigeria’s four pilotage districts, which commenced in 2019.

With the tenure of their contract about to lapse, Intels participated in the new procurement process but was disqualified after being judged to have flouted some criteria.

This, according to the report, comes after President Muhammadu Buhari in January 2022 directed that the initiated procurement should be concluded within 60 days.

The presidential directive was reaffirmed in another letter from the chief of staff to the president, Ibrahim Gambari, dated June 14, 2022.

On December 14, 2022, the transport minister wrote to Buhari seeking approval to direct the BPP to cancel the ongoing procurement process started the and initiate a new one.

He also sought to void the open competitive bidding process and re-award the contract to Intels without following any procurement process.

Sambo, in his submission to the president, was said to have highlighted some technical flaws with the procurement process in what insiders said was an attempt to discredit the process.

But in its response, the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, opposed the minister’s move, saying there was no basis to warrant or legitimise the outright cancellation of the procurement process.

Mamman Ahmadu, BPP’s director-general, in a letter dated March 7, 2023, explained that the process Sambo was seeking to cancel “substantially complied with the provisions of Public Procurement Act, 2007”.

Re-echoing the position expressed in Buhari’s two previous directives, the BPP DG said, “considering the importance of the procurement to the operations of the NPA coupled with the revenue loss that it is meant to address, there is the compelling need for the procurement process to be concluded within the shortest possible time”.

But Sambo, on May 8, 2023, wrote to Buhari to make fresh arguments for the cancellation of the stalled process. In the new correspondence, the minister asked for permission to return the contract to Intels in place of the new companies being engaged.

Sambo quoted a voided presidential directive dated January 22, 2021, where his predecessor was accused of misleading the president to approve the re-award of the contract to Intels, a position which the president has since receded based on submissions by BPP and office of the attorney-general upholding the validity of the suspended procurement process.

In both his letters of January 7, 2022, and June 14, 2022, Buhari maintained that the existing procurement process should be concluded to avert further revenue waste, among others.

The BPP has also stuck to its guns asking the transport ministry not to void the advance-staged process, saying the ministry had not given enough justification to warrant the proposed cancellation.

Insiders who have been monitoring the developments say Sambo is pushing on with the agenda with support from two of Buhari’s in-laws to “hurriedly” actualise the reversal of the process and to award the contract to INTELS barely eight days to the end of the administration.

“This could also be viewed as an affront on the incoming administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu that the Presidency is trying to empower a company where his biggest opponent owns a significant interest,” said one of the sources familiar with the intrigues.

Some key persons around the President-elect view some of these last-minute deals being pushed by officials of the outgoing administration as setting up of landmines for the incoming administration.

The minister is yet to respond to The Cable’s request for his comments.


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